[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[xmca] LSV and Kant

On LSV and Kant ... In the early 80s I remember asking a Marxist/professor type what Marx had had to say about Kant because everyone was saying bad things about Kantianism and I wanted to know more. (In those days it never occurred to us to read Kant to know about Kant, or Feuerbach to know about Feuerbach!) He replied that Marx wrote nothing about Kant (and this is true, not a word!) because "everything that needed to be said about Kant had already been said by Hegel."

That pretty much characterizes how Marxists have dealt with Kant. Ilyenkov's book (you know where to get that) concisely explains the Marxist critique of Kant, abstracted from Fichte/Schelling and Hegel, and my guess is that LSV who had read all the people leading up to Kant (Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, Hume, Rousseau), and people like Plekhanov and Lenin, would find that Ilyenkov accurately reflects his view.

As it happens I have since discovered that Critique of Kant was not solely the privilege of Fichte, Schelling and Hegel (as suggested by Hegel and picked up by every Marxist since, including Ilyenkov), and Luria and LSV were big fans of Goethe, so it just maybe that LSV got part of his Kant critique from that quarter, possibly.

What I recall reading in LSV is condemnation of the "unknowable thing-in-itself" and in Chapter 5 of "Crisis" you will find a criticism to the effect that Kant held that laws of Nature were "dictated" by reason. His famous 1925 speech tells me that LSV had read Kant, as he makes a subtle point about Kant's conception of the subject which I don't recall other Marxists making, only Fichte.

Does that help?


Martin Packer wrote:
On LSV's treatment of Kant, I have to duck. I don't have LSV's texts to hand to look for direct references. I know virtually nothing about the state of Kant studies in the USSR at that time. One could, however, make the sweeping generalization that all philosophy since then has been a response to Kant (I'm attaching an article that makes that point about a collection of 20th century scholars). And to drift away from your question temporarily, to me the most interesting readings of Kant see him as having captured (in his dualism between things as they are and as they appear; in his separation of thought, action, and judgment) the state of human being of a particular time and place, and they then respond by trying to revolves these splits either in theory, or in practice, or both. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that both Habermas and Foucault, despite their obvious differences, read Kant that way.
And that leads me to one of my few disappointments with LSV: that he was not able to criticize the society of his time. His essay "The Socialist Formation of Man" shows very well that he was certainly capable of this. His biography suggests he had every reason to do so. Obviously it was the state of society that itself made any criticism impossible, but it sure would have been fascinating to read!
Andy Blunden http://www.erythrospress.com/
Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel, Leontyev, Meshcheryakov, Ilyenkov $20 ea

xmca mailing list